Home Loomia: See What Your Facebook Friends Are Reading

Loomia: See What Your Facebook Friends Are Reading


is a content recommendation service that uses

a Facebook application

to track what you and your friends are reading on Loomia-supporting sites and then shows you what content is most popular among your social circle. The company has made

a big turnaround

, from initially focusing on podcast recommendations to today working with some of the biggest publishers on the web and

announcing a $5 million round of venture funding


We like recommendation engines here at RWW and this struck me as one of the first truly useful Facebook applications I’ve seen yet. A closer look at the app shows good news and bad news, though.

The Idea

The basic premise here is great. You add the Loomia Facebook application, give it access to your friends, networks and groups list, then it tracks what you’re reading on sites ranging from the Wall St. Journal online to NBC Video to YouTube and TMZ. (Plus TechCrunch, where’s the RWW love?)

There must be some other magic, premium or algorithmic, going on because the service does serve up “popular” content even when the available data set is little to nothing. By making news tracking opt-out on a site by site basis, Loomia is able to wring popularity data out of the 7500 people that have installed the app. Only 1% of those users, 75 people, currently go back daily and use the Loomia Facebook app to read news. They are anonymized, so I don’t know who among my friends has read what.


There are cookies flying all around but for some reason the Wall St. Journal, for example, only serves up a “What your Facebook Friends Are Reading” box of links powered by Loomia if you got to that WSJ article through a Loomia link. What looks like really valuable real estate for another content recommendation startup is actually being seen by a very, very small number of users. The BNet (cool site by the way) feed I’m shown by Loomia is 3/4ths blank headlines and there too I’m only shown Facebook recommendations if my referring URL was from Loomia.

Users might be more likely to use the Loomia app actively if it served up news better. There’s no option to view the items sorted by date instead of relevance, there’s no pagination for more than a limited number of items and there’s no (authenticated) RSS feed that lets you view what’s popular with your friends from other applications.

In the end, though I have more than 400 friends on Facebook (including 22 of the most tech news savvy who have added Loomia) and I have joined lots of groups, there appears to be a very low thresh hold for “popular among [my] friends” status. It’s a good thing I’ve joined a lot of groups, I guess.

I don’t remember joining the Facebook group “Pee on your Laptop and put it on DormItem!” (DormItem.com is a college classified ad site I reviewed once) but now the other members of that group are influencing what news I’m served up. I can filter to see just the news from one group or network, but this is getting complicated and the results end up pretty sparse. I’m left with the “I’m not really going to use this” feeling so common after a few minutes with any Facebook app.

Industry Context

Recommendation engines are going to be really important as soon as they are fully baked. Services like StumbleUpon, Last.fm and Amazon have demonstrated that it can work – but there are far more startups that haven’t nailed it yet.

Loomia probably got its VC backing because the company is good at selling to big media outlets, the theoretical value to all parties is very clear and the opt-out clickstream tracking is very powerful. Perhaps they’ve got a vision for how to close the loop on user experience and keep people coming back, but for now we can only imagine.

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